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Last week I was on a plane coming home to Washington state from Florida, had finished the book I had with me and used up the charge in my cell phone (no podcasts! arrrrgh!), and was stuck with the free in-flight movie for entertainment.

I will state up front here that I am a theatre and English teacher and thus am pretty picky in my taste for movies and books, and that taste generally runs more towards sci-fi and horror, but I do love both Robin Williams and John Travolta (despite his interview last week supporting Tom Cruise’s rant against anti-depressants), so I wanted to at least be amused by “Old Dogs.”

Alas.  No real amusement to be found, aside from the stellar visual of Seth Green being cradled by a large gorilla and singing “I’m All Out of Love,” which made me laugh out loud and startle my neighbor.  Williams’ performance is phoned in, with none of his trademark quirkiness; Travolta’s character is obnoxious rather than charming; the comedic situations caused by the tired trope of energetic children vs. confirmed bachelors are contrived and not at all surprising.  The two children in the movie are good natural actors, and I wanted to see more of them, rather than repeated scenes of Williams and Travolta bemoaning their situation.

I can’t say that I wanted two hours of my life back after watching this film, considering that if I hadn’t been watching it I would have just been staring out of an airplane window for two hours, but the end result for me was about the same.  If you want the truly comic and touching version of the “inexperienced male suddenly taking care of small child” story, rent the 1988 Leonard Nimoy-directed version “Three Men and a Baby.”

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